As a soon-to-be mom, there are lots of decisions you need to make—from the moment you find out you’re expecting to the very moment of delivery. Of course, there’s one decision in particular every expectant mother faces. Should you find out your baby’s sex? Although a baby’s genitalia begin forming as early as six weeks, male and female babies look very similar until approximately 14 weeks. This makes it hard to learn the sex any earlier, and can still be difficult afterward, depending on the baby’s positioning.
According to BabyCenter, “Most pregnant women find out their baby’s sex (if they choose to know) during their mid-pregnancy ultrasound, usually between 16 and 20 weeks.” During this ultrasound, the technician may ask if you want to know the baby’s sex. Here’s when the big decision comes in. For some women, knowing the sex is absolutely necessary. For others, they want the sex to be a surprise at birth. How can you decide what works best for you? We developed a pros and cons list to finding out your baby’s sex to help you decide.
What’s the biggest pro to finding out your baby’s sex beforehand? Planning. When you find out your baby’s sex, you can plan everything down to the tiniest little detail. This means decorating the room how you want, buying clothes for their sex and—most importantly—picking out the name. For some parents, having a “for-sure” name picked out and ready to go for the baby helps personify the little one even more before birth. You can truly imagine what the little boy or girl will look like, how you will raise them up and even how they will fit into your family. For some mothers, this level of planning is exciting, and makes finding out the sex beforehand practically a no-brainer.
With the planning for your baby comes the lack of surprise in knowing the sex, which some soon-to-be moms find soothing. During pregnancy, there are already a million different questions floating around in your head, all of which might end in a surprise. Will the child be healthy? Who will the baby look like? When will you be able to sleep soundly again? There are so many different surprises floating around during pregnancy, that sometimes simply knowing the sex of the baby can provide a certain level of comfort in knowledge.
Finally, one of the biggest pros to finding out your baby’s sex before birth is: you aren’t “disappointed.” A Mother Far From Home says, “This is a reason many people give. That they don’t want to hope for one gender for 10 months then be disappointed at delivery. They hope finding out the gender at the ultrasound will help give them time to come to terms with the gender before the baby is born.” By finding out the sex before the birth, you can completely prepare and plan for your little one—mentally, emotionally and physically. Then, once he or she is born, they can fit right into your life without missing a beat.
On the other hand, there are a few cons to consider when finding out your baby’s sex. The first might be the biggest worry for parents: what if the ultrasound is wrong? With the advanced technology of today, technicians and doctors can usually tell a baby’s sex with a 95% accuracy rate. However, this can also depend on how easy it is to see the genitalia in the ultrasound. According to The Bump, “The biggest reason for error is that it’s simply too early for the technician or doctor to see the gender clearly. Very early on, it’s possible for a tailbone to get mistaken for a penis or a bum to resemble a vulva.” If unsure, most doctors will give you an approximation, and may even ask you to come back in in a few weeks to try the test again. However, even at a 5% rate, inaccurate readings can mean everything you planned for your little one is now wrong, and can be a challenge to scramble and fix.
Of course, another big con to finding out the sex of your baby is the lack of surprise. Although some mothers might find this comforting, it can be disappointing for others. After all, with technology nowadays, you really only get so many true surprises in life, so why not wait a few months to find out your baby’s? Scary Mommy says waiting to find your baby’s sex is even good practice for learning patience later on in life, particularly during the 2-year-old stage.
Finally, the biggest con to finding out your baby’s sex is all of the stuff. If you know whether the little one is a boy or a girl, chances are all of your gifts are going to be highly gendered, meaning pink bows, tutus and glitter, or blue ties, vests and sports gear. When you have more children later on, this might make hand-me-downs difficult. On the flip side, if you choose not to find out the sex, then you will receive more gender-neutral presents, actually practical and useful gifts and even gift cards. This gives you more flexibility in preparing for the baby now, and gives you more options when you have children in the future.
When it comes to pregnancy, there are lots of decisions on the table. One such decision is whether or not to find out the baby’s sex. As you weigh your options, consider these pros and cons to make the decision you’re most comfortable with for your family.